Pochettino's Saints held by Toffees
Published 21/01/2013 | 22:09
If any Southampton fans brought along their white handkerchiefs to St Mary's, they remained firmly tucked away in their pockets as the Saints played out an entertaining goalless draw against Everton in Mauricio Pochettino's first game in charge.
A planned protest against the acrimonious sacking of Nigel Adkins with the waving of handkerchiefs, a tradition amongst restless Spanish fans, failed to materialise as Southampton outplayed the Toffees for much of their Barclays Premier League encounter, with only their finishing letting them down.
Rickie Lambert, recalled by Pochettino, came closest to breaking the deadlock when he saw his 25-yard free-kick rattle Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard's right-hand post.
The hosts started well under their new Argentinian boss, who was greeted with a warm reception by the home fans, and created all of the early chances. Gaston Ramirez and Lambert combined after just four minutes with Everton defender Phil Jagielka almost turning in Lambert's cross for an own goal.
Jason Puncheon was next to come close for the Saints when his low shot was deflected just wide of the post, before Ramirez forced a smart save out of Howard with only 13 minutes on the clock. Lambert then hit the post with his 25-yard set piece.
It was the Southampton skipper who again caused havoc for the Everton defence as a clever touch took him inside Leighton Baines before Howard was forced to push his effort back into the middle of the area.
The Everton goal was living a charmed life as the resulting corner saw Lambert's header hacked off the line by a combination of Nikica Jelavic and Baines, with Jos Hooiveld's follow-up shot saved by Howard. Lambert was guilty of missing a fantastic effort as half-time edged closer when he headed wide from 12 yards.
However, after the break, it was Everton who almost grabbed the opening goal of the contest, with Marouane Fellaini twice being denied by Artur Boruc in quick succession. Jelavic then fluffed his lines as Victor Anichebe burst through the Saints' defence before pulling the ball back to the Croatian, who could not make meaningful contact when in front of Boruc.
Anichebe, a replacement for the injured Seamus Coleman, was again involved when he forced another save from the Polish goalkeeper after being slipped in by Fellaini. Substitute Kevin Mirallas, making his first appearance since December 9 after recovering from a hamstring problem, fired wide after some good control inside the Saints' penalty area.
Moyes' side had scored in their previous nine away games but it was Southampton who ended the match on top, although they could not find a way through Everton's resolute defensive line to give Pochettino a winning start to his Southampton career.